Hiking in North Carolina is an incredibly varied experience. Located in the southeastern U.S., the state is known for its narrow and sandy string of islands named the Outer Banks that extend into the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Coastal Plain along the state's shoreline is swampy and shallow, rising into the Piedmont Plateau farther inland, which is dominated by rolling hills.
On the western side of the state, the Blue Ridge Mountains stretch into Virginia, while the Smoky Mountains extend along the Tennessee border. The most famous spot for hiking in North Carolina is easily the 2,184-mile-long Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, which passes through this area.
The editors at Backpacker have created an extensive collection of popular trails and trips for hiking North Carolina.
The 18,479-acre Shining Rock Wilderness protects an East Coast paradise of waterfalls, mountaintop views, and remote trails.
We’re all for tagging summits, but the best way to experience a peak? Hike around it. You’ll see a mountain’s many faces on a single, peak-circling loop. These 14 trips circumnavigate the best of the best.
Strap your canoe to the car and prepare to get elevated at this North Carolina haven.
Congaree National Park
Looking for a multisport trip? You couldn't do better than this stretch of wilderness on the east coast.
While Great Smoky Mountains might be the most visited park in the system, Cataloochee is far from the crowds—with a bit of luck, you can see as many elk as people. BY GRAHAM AVERILL
Hike to a beautiful waterfall and go for a swim in South Mountains State Park near Charlotte.
Even locals hardly know about this secluded spot